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My Week With Monte Nagler – Cleveland, Ohio

June 16, 2014
Group Photo - Monte Nagler 2014 Spring Workshop

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

Having the opportunity to participate in a workshop with THE photographer who inspired me all those years ago was a dream come true.  Monte Nagler is an internationally recognized fine art photographer from Michigan who studied with Ansel Adams.  He is also a noted writer, lecturer and teacher of photography.  He wrote a weekly photography column for the local Observer Eccentric Newspaper for more than 25 years.  I literally started my SLR photography education back in 1979 by faithfully reading those articles.  Many of Monte’s educational Articles are available through his website

When I learned about his 2014 Spring Workshop, an 8-night/9-day road trip (May 3-11) to Cleveland (OH), Niagara Falls (NY), Rochester (NY) and Watkins Glen/Letchworth State Parks (NY) , I realized this was one opportunity I could not pass up.  I wanted to watch and learn from a Master so that I could begin to better understand “The Art of Seeing” to be able to create more visually pleasing digital images.  I also wanted to take advantage of being retired and open the doors to some new and exciting photographic opportunities.

There were four other students: (1) a retired Vietnam War Veteran who rode “shotgun”, was our navigator and our “doorman” and (2) a retired cardiologist, both of whom have a passion for photography, (3) an aspiring professional fine art photographer who is making a name for herself, and (4) a serious hobbyist with a day job who is hoping to eventually break into the competitive world of fine art photography, all of whom had been on previous workshops with Monte.

At first, I was a little anxious about traveling with complete strangers other than Monte, and I worried about fitting in.  I also thought I might be the oldest student, but it turned out I was the youngest (by a year) and I fit in just fine.  It was a wonderful mix of personalities, life styles and photography experiences.  The “official” group photo is courtesy of Monte Nagler.

DAY ONE – Saturday, May 3, 2014

We departed Monte’s home/office in Farmington Hills, Michigan, for the approximately 3-hour road trip, with Monte driving a 15-passenger van loaded with five excited students and literally a ton of photography equipment, not to mention our personal luggage and all of the yummy snacks we brought along for the road trip.  I felt like a little kid again, so anxious for the adventure to begin.

If you are wondering what was “in my camera bag”, here you go: Think Tank Streetwalker Pro Backpack, Canon EOS 60D, Canon EOS Rebel XTi, Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, Canon EFS 75-300mm Zoom f/4-5.6, Canon EFS 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, a rented Canon 100mm Macro f/2.8 IS, lens hoods, UV and polarizer filters, Canon Speedlite 430EX II flash, Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod and Manfrotto 322RC2 ballhead/grip stored in a Manfrotto Tripod Bag, small “spotting scope” tripod, Vello Wired Remote, battery chargers, extra camera batteries in Think Tank Battery Holder, Pearstone AA rechargeable batteries in battery cases, Watson 8-Bay Rapid Charger, camera cleaning supplies including Giottos Rocket Blaster, Giottos Pen Brush, Cleaning Solution, Q-tips, & Cleaning Cloth, gray card, X-rite Color Checker,  plenty of camera cards in a Clik Elite Camera Card Holder including SD Extreme cards (six 8GB and two 16GB), SD Ultra CF cards (three 4GB) and one 2GB Kingston CF card, and Canon USB camera cords.  Needless to say it was a heavy traveling backpack, which was downsized and reorganized each day depending on the destination.  I also had my point and  shoot Sony and my Android phone.

Anyway, after several hours of driving on the Ohio Turnpike, a couple of restroom breaks and a lunch stop, we arrived in Cleveland and headed straight to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, an architecturally stunning museum, located on the southern shore of Lake Erie.  Unfortunately, tripods were not allowed indoors, so many of the photos shot inside are not really worthy of being shared.  However, the results of our exterior shooting (without a tripod) were better than expected.  Below are a few photos from that first day.

Rok & Roll Hall of Fame

Rok & Roll Hall of Fame

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Steel & Glass

Exterior Steel & Glass

More Steel & Glass

Interior Steel & Glass

Cleveland Fire Fighters Memorial

Cleveland Fire Fighters Memorial near the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

After spending the afternoon wandering around the museum, both indoors and out, we checked into a Best Western south of the downtown area where we each had our own room.  Somehow, I ended up with quite a large mini-suite which was quite nice.  After relaxing for a bit, I met the rest of the group in the lobby to head out to dinner.  But first we watched California Chrome win the Kentucky Derby on the lobby TV.  Then we enjoyed an unexpectedly nice dinner at the Bob Evans Restaurant which was located within walking distance, right across the street.  Food was good, service was so-so (although we were a somewhat “demanding” group) and dessert was great.  After spending time some time reorganizing equipment and preparing for the next day’s adventure, it was time for a long, hot shower before crashing for the night!

DAY TWO – Sunday, May 4, 2014

We took advantage of Best Western’s complimentary breakfast, then loaded up the van and headed out to our first destination – The Toledo Zoo’s Rainforest.  Although tripods were allowed and I was using a rented Canon 100mm Macro Lens from, I just was simply uninspired by the subject matter (reptiles, birds, primates, etc). Thus, here are just a few photos from that stop.

Toledo Zoo Rain Forest

Toledo Zoo Rain Forest Building

After a quick lunch at the Amazon Café in the Rainforest, we headed to our afternoon destination, the Cleveland Botanical Garden.  Now, this place was inspiring!  Monte also took a little more time with me to sharpen my macro shooting skills.  Below are a few images from that afternoon.

Giant Green Leaf

Giant Green Leaf

A Natural Fan

A Natural Fan

Sea of Tulips

Sea of Tulips

Woodland Garden Sculpture

Woodland Garden Sculpture

Retreat Within Inspiration Gardens

Retreat within Inspiration Gardens

Butterfly Gardens Amphitheater

Butterfly Gardens Amphitheater

On our way back to the hotel, we drove by the Cleveland Clinic (below photo is “thru the window”), and made a quick stop to photograph a church that caught the eye of our driver.  After another fun dinner at the Bob Evan’s Restaurant, it was time to repack for our morning departure and get some much needed sleep.

Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic

Old Church

Old Church

DAY THREE – Monday, May 5, 2014

Once again, we enjoyed the complimentary breakfast before loading up the van and heading out.  Before we hit the interstate for the 3 1/2 hour drive to Niagara Falls, NY, we made an unscheduled stop at Cleveland’s Riverside Cemetery which we had passed by the previous day but didn’t have time to stop.  Photography at a cemetery can be quite challenging.  First, you have to get past that weird feeling of trespassing, shake off the spookiness, and show respect for the dead all in an effort to capture the beauty of such a somber place.

The cemetery was founded in 1876 so there was plenty of history to absorb.  For example, the 19th century red brownstone  Gatehouse/Office Building was completed in the early spring of 1897.  Its massive, castle-like, Romanesque design is what  initially caught our eye the day before, but the bright early morning sunshine made it a difficult subject to photograph.

Red Brownston of the Riverside Cemetery Gatehouse/Office Building

Riverside Cemetery Gatehouse/Office Building’s red brownstone

We found The Victorian Stone Chapel as we drove further into the cemetery.  The sandstone Chapel was built prior to the 1876 dedication of the cemetery for the purpose of having an interdenominational place for funerals.  Monte helped me compose the below photo.  The unusual texture of the tree jumped out at us and screamed “use me as a frame for the chapel”!

In addition to these two beautiful, historic buildings, the cemetery is home to many private family mausoleums which were also fascinating subjects to photograph.

Private Family Mausoleum at Riverside Cemetery

Private Family Mausoleum at Riverside Cemetery

We probably spent more time at the cemetery than we should have, but it was worth the stop!

Now, stay tuned for “My Week With Monte Nagler – Niagara Falls, New York”

#MonteNagler #PhotographyWorkshops #Cleveland #RockAndRollHallOfFame #ClevelandBotanicalGarden #ClevelandZoo #ClevelandZooRainforest #BestWestern #BobEvans #RiversideCemetery #Canon #Giottos #ClikElite #Manfrotto #ThinkTank



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